Minimum requirements for HTPC

Hi all,

To date, i've been using my PC for streaming media, downloading/viewing from itunes etc to my HDTV. I'm looking to build a dedicated HTPC for a seperate TV in my house.

However, since i've always built a computer to maximize gaming performance, im not really sure what the requirements would be to make a good (but very cost effective -- ~$400CAD) HTPC.

Any insight? Are any of these small Ion CPU based units from acer etc worthwhile?
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  1. Personally I hate those Atoms!
    Here is my experience with Atom :
    I have bought a netbook from samsung using atom N270 1GB RAM, XP Sp3. I tought it was powerful enough to do low profile works such as office and internet. I was attracted from the size of those netbooks. This could be a good traveling partner. I still have my dell with i7 but the small sized netbook could be put into some usage.
    I was disappointed, the proc was already 100% loaded before I even got a chance to do anything, and the load came from pre-installed mcaffee. I have deinstalled it it was fine, but after using the netbook to write my internship report with lots of was F**CK**NG slow.
    I tried to connect to the internet using a surf stick from vodafone...the netbook was already loaded about 80% because of the software from vodafone before the internet explorer even started.
    I have sold the netbook on ebay.
    No more Atom for me.
  2. Agree on the Atom comments. They're just barely too slow for a fully effective HTPC.

    You're best bet is either a dual core AMD with a 785G motherboard or an Intel i3 with a H55 motherboard. Shop around for deals.

    $400 won't get you too far if you need to purchase a Windows license (or you could use mythbuntu for free). Do you have any parts you can reuse?

    At this budget, it almost makes more sense to go with a prebuilt media tank like the WD TV Live HD or a popcorn hour.
  3. Well, i shouldnt buy a htpc when you can also build one yourself.
    An intel atom could be great for a cheap htpc, but 1.6Ghz single core isn't much...
    1 Gb RAM should be enough for a htpc too.
    The point: a graphics card. If you want to play high-definition (blu-ray for example) movies, you need a decent graphics card if you dont want your screen to "freeze".
    A 160Gb harddisk is pretty small also. I should recommend 1Tb+, as movies take alot of hard disk space...
    That acer you suggested is NOT able to play hd/blu-ray films.

    some example of a htpc build:
    Athenatech Black Aluminum Face Plate / Steel Chassis A3701BB ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
    ^don't get a cheap plastic case. This is a really solid one. Perhaps you might want to pick a tower case too.
    AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
    ^You dont multitask on a htpc, so dual core is fine. And 3Ghz is more then enough! And oh, its very energy efficient also :D
    Open Box: ASUS M4N68T-M AM3 NVIDIA Geforce 7025/nForce 630a Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    ^Just some cheap but decent motherboard. We dont need onboard graphics, and we wont need more then two memory lanes.
    Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT12864BA1339 - Retail
    BIOSTAR VA4673NH51-B Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail
    ^The BEST graphics card in its prize range
    CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
    ^NEVER buy cheap psu's
    Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    ^1Tb hard drive for all your storage needs.

    grand total: ~$435,-
    You still need to add a dvd or blu-ray drive (add ~$25 for dvd and ~100 for blu-ray), and an os (i suggest ubuntu because its free).
  4. Those Newegg links aren't really going to do the OP any good since he said he's from Canada. The prices are different between and

    I'll see what I can put together if I get a few minutes at work.

    Edit: How flexible is your budget? Here's a nice HTPC for $500. $187.99 (Intel Pentium G6950 Clarkdale 2.8GHz + GIGABYTE GA-H55M-S2H combo)

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $59.99

    G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT - Retail $101.99

    Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail $149.99

    Total - $499.96

    You could drop the price a little by going with 2GB of RAM if you absolutely have to.

    G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-8500CL7D-2GBNQ - Retail $66.49
  5. Im sure that almost the same items are from sale on and Just search for the items I posted on

    Nice build shortstuff, but wheres your graphics card?
    A htpc w/o onboard graphics: ouch...

    ps: its quite hard to put two cpu's inside a non-server-motherboard...
  6. What are you talking about? Nearly all HTPC's use integrated graphics. HTPC's hardly take any graphics power at all.

    I only have one CPU in my build. I just listed the CPU and motherboard by themselves and then listed the combo for the two. I edited it to make more sense.
  7. Thanks for the replies gang.

    I have an MSI p45 platinum and an E8400 I could reuse, problem is its not a micro atx motherboard.

    Anyone able to recommend a HTPC case (preferably with an infared remote sensor) that would fit a larger mobo?

    I don't know about the onboard graphics on my board, if I were looking at a video card to just cover off HDMI output and encoding where should I look?
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